Thursday, 21 February 2013

Heart Change

43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  Luke 6:43-45

When I have the privilege of teaching a class I prefer interactive sessions, i.e. where those in attendance pose questions during the session.  This keeps it fresh and alive for me because I have no idea what people will ask so it keeps me “on my game” so to speak.  Such was the case last night and I wanted to share the question and my attempt at responding.
The larger topic was idols of the heart, i.e. we respond to external circumstances in a way that would not please God thus we make something in our lives more important than God.  For example I might be running late and I am stopped at a red light.  The light changes to green but the person in front of me does not advance his car.  My impatience gets the better of me and I lay on the horn.  At that very moment my time is more important than the person in front of me.  By letting the person know of my displeasure I am advancing the cause of people everywhere who need to arrive at a destination on time.  Clearly this is all about me, my needs, my wants, and my desires.

The question was “How does one go about changing their heart?”

You see it was not the driver in front of me that caused my less than appropriate response to the situation, it was my impatient, critical spirit that jumped on the horn.  That impatient critical spirit resides inside of me, for what comes out of me is what is inside of me.

My response:

A true heart change can only come about with the help of the Holy Spirit which is only available to those who have professed Christ as Lord and Savior.  The person must have a strong desire to change.  The person must express their genuine sorrow to God for their specific heart issue and ask Him to help bring about a change.  Most likely it will be gradual, as a rule God is not in the business of quick fixes.  It will take work and it will take a willingness on the part of the sinner to ask someone to hold him/her accountable. It will mean more prayer, more time in God’s Word and time spent with those who can provide Godly counsel.

How might you have responded to the question?

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

God's Purpose or Your Purpose

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1Corinthians 10:31

An article in the Wall Street Journal caught my attention.  The title of the article was “The Gray Divorces”.  It went on to describe a cultural shift in how Americans view marriage.  The article suggested that prior to WWII (that would be World War II) there was an “institutional phase”.  That phrase alone should have scared off most.  Marriage back then, according to Ms. Thomas, was largely seen as an economic union. (How thrilling)  The 50’s and 60’s were supposedly the “companionate phase” in which a successful marriage was defined by the degree to which each spouse could fulfill his or her role.  In the 70’s the “individualized phase” kicked in, featuring an emphasis on the satisfaction of personal needs. This shift has given rise to those over age 50 divorcing at a rate double what it was two decades ago.  It is all about me, my needs, my wants, my desires and my expectations.

Professor Brown, author of the “Gray Marriage Paper” cites statistics of a successful re-marriage which should certainly throw up a huge red flag. In those in the 50 to 64 age bracket they are twice as likely to divorce again.  For those over age 65 the risk quadruples.

Here is the punch line of the article.  The ex-wife, who was cited in this article, found her current boyfriend on line and one of the characteristics that mattered to her most was that he, the divorced boyfriend was “very religious – one of the things lacking in my former husband.”

You have to be kidding. 

The verse for today says, “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  In Greek that phrase means “whatever you do” which would include marrying someone, particularly when you consider God invented marriage.

I must admit I don’t know one couple who stood at the altar and said, “I take this man/woman to be my husband/wife so as to bring glory to God.”  But also must say I do not know of one couple who has tried as best as humanly possible to conduct themselves in a way that would bring honor to God that has not experienced a marriage of unity, understanding and love.

I wonder what marriage could be like if in the decade beginning in 2015 couples entered the “biblical phase” in which the husband loved his wife as much as he loved himself and the wife revered and respected her husband.  In addition to being other centered, they prayed together as husband and wife; their parenting focused on character development; and their home was filled with grace, peace and love.  Nah, that would never work.